Friday, 20 September 2019
Reacting to an Old Blog Post *smacks forehead*
Let me set the scene: I'm sitting in my lecture hall, an hour early because I am an extremely anxious person who arrives hours early for everything, and I'm trying to kill time. I don't want to watch Netflix because it'll drain my battery to fast, so, I do the sensible thing: I read some of my old blog posts and bask in the cringiness. Here are the results.
If you recall, I did a post once reacting to my first blog post. I'll link it here. However, this was a much different experience for me, because I was actually reading a review of a book I once thought was a great form of representation. Now, I see it as mostly problematic and offensive.
The review was of Burning by: Elana K. Arnold. This is not a very well-known book, but I found it at the library, and back then any book that had some sort of dramatic looking beautiful girl on the front, I would pick it up. Now let me say, and excuse my language, this book is FUCKED UP. It's about a teenaged white boy who lives in this small town known as Gypsum, that has Roma people, (the book refers to them as g*psies, I now realize that is a slur.), living on the outskirts. He falls in love with one of the Roma girls, who is a tarot card reader and is arranged to be married to another Roma. Their love is forbidden *shock.*
I cannot believe I once thought a book like this was ok. Not only do they only refer to the Roma's as g*ypsies throughout the entire book, but the main female protagonist, Lala, is incredibly hyper-sexualized and exoticised. There is a heavy emphasis on sex, despite the author forgetting that this book is about teenagers. *I will add that sex positivity is always needed in YA, but this book does so in a way that only sexualizes the non-white girl, who at the end of the day, is still a minor.
I think this book plays on the fantasies of white men wanting "exotic" women. It really emphasizes the desert setting, and the heat. I think the author was trying to get at a sexy summer read, but all it does is reinforce stereotypes, while using politically incorrect language to do it.
All the Roma women in this novel are fortune tellers who prey on unsuspecting white men. While the Roma men are violent, misogynistic and domineering over their daughters. I cannot imagine how actual Roma people would feel when reading this novel. It certainly didn't sit well with me.
I wanted to bring this up because I wrote a pretty positive review of this novel. I never acknowledged the problems, and I even thought the romance was "passionate." I added "passion" as one of my tags. God 2014 Emily, what were you thinking? I think it is important for us bloggers to look back with criticism of works we once thought were good, but have since realized were troublesome. I wanted to acknowledge my lack of judgement when first reading this book. Thankfully, times have drastically changed, even only in five years, and I think I would definitely be more critical of the book had I read it now.
So, this book was not good. But, it did allow me to open up a conversation about judging previously loved books, and did teach me a lesson to definitely do more research about cultural accuracies in my future blogging career.
Did you ever love a book you now realize was problematic?
Emily @ Paperback Princess
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I think that looking back and finding our own old attitudes problematic is actually a good thing - not that we said/thought the thing to begin with, but that we've grown enough to recognise it as it is.ReplyDelete
There are problems with many books that I have loved and still love - as long as we acknowledge that, it's fine. People are human. I love Harry Potter, but I also recognise that has a list of not-quite-right things as long as your arm!
I totally agree! Acknowledging that the times have now changed and we have to be mindful of problematic content definitely shows a progression of growth! Totally agree with you on the HP thing!Delete
Wow, this book looks awful, but I definitely relate to liking problematic books without even realizing there was anything wrong with them. I think especially regarding how female characters are represented I'd overlooked a lot as a teen, and never questioned slut-shaming and the likes. Great post, Emily!ReplyDelete
I think I read a lot of books that slut-shamed girls when I was younger. Early YA books did not treat teenaged girls well!Delete
I've read some older stuff (especially pulp fantasy/SF stuff from, shall we say, earlier eras) and they can be quite cringeworthy. Also I think I've done the same- reviewed something positively or thought of something positively only to be like- Greg what were you thinking?? So yeah, definitely. :)ReplyDelete
Haha, I feel like we’ve all been there, unfortunately!Delete